The first generation Mercedes-Benz SLK was all about fun. When the SLK was launched, Mercedes said it was ”driving in a new dimension.” I kind of get what they were after but I’ll just chalk it up to some marketing-speak. While the R129 was the serious roadster with a serious price tag, the R170 was the light-hearted option that checked in at $40,000 as opposed to the $80,000 and up if you went with SL500. There was a finally an option for people who didn’t want to spend starter home money for a Mercedes convertible. The best part about it was that the normally ultra-conservative styling you were used to seeing was moved towards something that still could be recognized as a Mercedes, but a breath of fresh air and a look into the new millennium. You want a crazy color? Sure. Matching seats? You got it. And how about something those stuffy R129 buyers don’t have, an automatic, retractable hardtop? Yep, that will make Morty and Barb from the club jealous. How about one more thing, a supercharger. Now we are going crazy!
All this was really great in the late 1990s. Times were good, money was flowing and there was no reason to believe that you when you bought a SLK, you weren’t getting that same standard of quality that you were used to from every Mercedes convertible of past. All the way from the 300SL and 190SL to the R129 and C124 and everything in between, those were really special cars. There is a reason why the W111/112 Cabriolet is still a six-figure car and Pagodas even in the roughest of condition are starting at $50,000. The thing with the SLK was that all of a sudden the generous amount of leather and wood you were accustomed to in your top-down Mercedes was suddenly replaced with vinyl and plastic. Lots and lots of plastic. It’s tough to blame Mercedes as they needed to directly compete with the BWM Z3 that was well into production and buyers didn’t care all that much because they got a convertible with that giant three-pointed in the grille for half the price they usually are. Everyone wins.
Edit 10/01/2017: After fixing a few more things and covering about 10,000 more miles, the buyer of this unique 325iT has it back on the block again in a no reserve auction. – Ed
The E46 wagon has emerged as perhaps the last bastion of good, clean, simple German longroofing. Modern wagons are bulbous, overstuffed with features, and crazy expensive. The biggest options on today’s 325i Touring are color choices, while the mechanicals and general usability remain refreshingly simple: no sunroof, inline-6, 5-speed manual, manual seats. Manual, but in Tanin red leather, just the kind of curveball reader/seller Rob clearly likes. A nice, plain white exterior? Why not add discreet M-pinstriping and anything-but-discreet Creamsicle Orange lower valences? The 7-spoke Style 4s are nice but plain – leave them for the all-season tires and you get summer-rubber on blackened Style 68s! The colors may jump all over the place, but if anything they draw attention to a sweet car that represents a simplicity we have all but lost.
The Porsche Cayenne is always a sore subject when brought up. Often the primary transportation of upper-middle class housewives such as Carmela Soprano and alike, the Porsche purist cringes when one drives by. But in 2010, Porsche decided to add a little flair to it’s normally mundane and mall cruising SUV to honor their victories in the Transsyberian Rallies. What we got was a truly off-road capable vehicle. This 2010 Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia located in Central Illinois can have you ready to tackle the woods in your Porsche — if you don’t mind the color orange.
Now HERE is a Unimog that is all set to be converted into my most badass of RVs. Used in Desert Storm by the Belgians, it’s been used as a cabinetry truck most recently. What I love, besides the quintessential Mog-ness, is that it has 90% of the hardware already installed for some fold-down beds. With the Pohl Cabinetry decals removed, the reversed H.E.L.P. on the front would be a great entrance into a campground, and by campground, I mean anywhere I want to sleep because nothing will stop a Mog.